2008: 123. Life Sentences

“I was sorry to find that the word “autodidact” does not appear in the new edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, because it is a word that, from the moment I first heard it has troubled me.”

Life Sentences, Joseph Epstein

This was excellent - much better than the Ozick book, which I read at the same time (and I read both because I had enjoyed Passionate Minds so much that I thought more literary criticism would be interesting, but because I needed to return things to the library my blog got all out of chronological order).  I’m not sure who, exactly, Epstein is, but he writes a mean literary essay (and has a knack for a snappy turn of phrase, as well).*  I really enjoyed his essays - particularly those on Mary McCarthy, John Dos Passos, and Robert Lowell (although I think that Dos Passos is overrated, Epstein made me understand why he would have wowed people who first ran into him thirty years ago, and Epstein seems to understand why he no longer has that effect - short answer is that Marxism is not what it was).  Like Passionate Minds, and the Waugh, highly recommended if you are interested in literary reading that is insightful without being dreadfully academic and post-modern...

*Ok, Wikipedia tells me he is a “Chicagoan essayist, short story writer, and editor, best known as a former editor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society's The American Scholar magazine and for his recent essay collection, Snobbery: The American Version. He was also a lecturer at Northwestern University from 1974 - 2002. He is a Contributing Editor at The Weekly Standard and a long-time contributor of essays and short stories to The New Criterion and Commentary. The late William F. Buckley, Jr. in his review of Snobbery called Epstein the wittiest writer alive.” Nice work if you can get it, hmmm?


Date/Place Competed: 8/18/08; D.C.

Categories: Non-Fiction; Library, Book Resolution/Dewey Decimal (809 E64l)

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017